Burdock, which is a carrot-like root from the plant Arctium
lappa (also its Latin name), is a biennial herb grown in China, Europe and the United
States. Employed as a popular folk medicine around the world, burdock is also consumed as
a vegetable in Japan, where it is called gobo.
Burdock seeds are crushed to make a popular tincture used to purify the blood and as a
traditional liver tonic. In India and Russia the burdock root is a popular remedy, and in
China burdock is believed to be an effective aphrodisiac, believed useful in treating
impotence and sterility.
The volatile oils of burdock seed are said to be an effective diaphoretic, used to
inducing sweating as an aid in neutralizing and eliminating toxins from the body. This
activity is widely utilized by herbal practitioner's in the treatment of liver problems,
gallstones, flu, and to support the kidneys in filtering acids from the blood stream,
despite the lack of clinical studies supporting the effect.
Studies of burdock show that it is high in minerals, being a good source of iron. Data
also indicate that the burdock root is a good source of the carbohydrate insulin which can
account for 45% of the plant mass. Burdock is also a good source of essential oils and
other compounds that exhibit bacteriostatic and anitfungal activity.
Burdock is an effective diuretic and is considered a very safe herb and food product,
though there have been cases where the purity of the burdock root has raised some concern.
Natural healers revere the Burdock herb as nature's best
"blood purifier" that is, they believe that it rids the body of dangerous
toxins. Ancient herbalists used burdock to treat snake bites. Nicholas Culpeper, the
famous 17th Century herbalist, wrote that it "helpeth those that are bit by a mad
dog." Today, many herbalists still recommend the burdock herb for its diuretic
action: It increases the flow of urine and promotes sweating. Used externally,
burdock is considered a major natural treatment for skin problems such as eczema,
psoriasis, and even canker sores. Burdock is also soothing for hemorrhoids.